By Jim Fair

Pope Francis on Palm Sunday acknowledged that young people are experiencing World Youth Day in an unusual way this year.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, young people are not together in large diocesan gatherings but home with their families. The faithful view today’s moving liturgy on a screen rather than from the pews.

“I wish to greet all those that have taken part through the means of social communication,” the Pope said at the Angelus prayed in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Holy Father’s words in his message for World Youth Day issued a month ago are so appropriate today:

“All around us, but at times also within us, we can see realities of death: physical, spiritual, emotional, social. Do we really notice them, or simply let them happen to us? Is there anything we can do in order to restore life?

“I think too of all those negative situations that people of your age are experiencing,” the Holy Father continued in his World Youth Day message. “Some stake everything on the present moment and risk their own lives in extreme experiences. Others are ‘dead’ because they feel hopeless. One young woman told me: ‘Among my friends, I see less desire to get involved, less courage to get up’. Sadly, depression is spreading among young people too, and in some cases even leads to the temptation to take one’s own life. How many situations are there where apathy reigns, where people plunge into an abyss of anguish and remorse! How many young people cry out with no one to hear their plea! Instead, they meet with looks of distraction and indifference on the part of people who want to enjoy their own ‘happy hour’, without being bothered about anyone or anything else.”

In light of the pandemic and reflecting his focus on young people, Pope Francis had special thoughts at Sunday’s Angelus for young people. And he looked forward to a time when activities – including sports – return.

“In particular, my thought goes to the young people throughout the world, who are living in an unusual way, at the diocesan level, today’s World Youth Day.,” Francis said. Planned for today was the handing of the Cross by the young people of Panama to those of Lisbon. This thought-provoking gesture has been deferred to next November 22, Sunday of Christ the King. While awaiting that moment, I exhort you, young people, to cultivate and witness the hope, the generosity and the solidarity of which we are all in need in this difficult time.

“Tomorrow, April 6, is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, called by the United Nations. In this period, so many events have been suspended, but the best fruits of sport come out: endurance, team spirit, brotherhood, giving the best of oneself . . . Therefore, we re-launch sport for peace and development.”

The Holy Father’s Full Address

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